Canadians get a Kindle surprise

The e-book reader available in Canada isn’t Amazon’s top-of-the-line device

Canadians get a Kindle surprise

As a software developer, Shane McCallum keeps himself abreast of the latest tech trends. As such, he was willing to jump through a few hoops last summer to get his hands on Amazon’s popular Kindle book reader before it was officially made available to Canadians in November. Though he lives in Revelstoke, B.C., McCallum tricked Amazon’s U.S. website into selling him one of the devices by masking his computer’s ISP address and setting up a fake American account. He then had his Kindle shipped to a post office box located a short drive across the border from his parents’ home in Rossland, B.C.

Such are the travails of the early adopter, but McCallum says it was worth it. The “DX” model McCallum bought, with its 9.7-inch screen (the original Kindle has a six-inch screen) and more than double the capacity of the previous generation Kindle, still isn’t available in Canada. An Amazon spokesperson says the earliest it would be available in Canada would be “some time next year.” McCallum bemoans, “After a few years working in the tech industry, you realize that Canada gets these things pretty slowly, if it gets them at all.”

It doesn’t end there. The version of the Kindle available to Canadians comes with a key feature—an “experimental” Web browser—turned off for all websites except Wikipedia.

The Kindle, which allows users to wirelessly download books and read them on a screen that’s easy on the eyes, was launched in the U.S. nearly two years ago and updated earlier this year. In fact, by the time Kindle was made available to Canadians for US$259 plus shipping and import fees, it had already been rolled out in about 100 countries for nearly six weeks, making Canada one of the last places on earth to have access to the device billed by some as the biggest thing to happen to books since the invention of moveable type. It’s a depressingly familiar situation for Canadian gadget fans. Apple’s iPhone didn’t arrive in Canada until a full year after its release in the U.S. And we’re still stuck with regional blackout messages when we try to view Hulu.com, a slick site developed by American television networks to air their content online.

Although Canada often touts itself as a tech-savvy country because of things like broadband Internet access, many Canadians can’t be blamed for feeling like they live in a technology backwater. Most observers blame Canada’s status as a small market for the situation, but there’s evidence that Canadian rules about content may also play a role in delaying the arrival of devices and services.

All of which raises the question for would-be Canadian Kindle owners this Christmas: should you buy one? The answer depends on how badly you value owning the latest and greatest. While the Kindle has won high praise from critics and put e-readers on the digital map, it is now just one of several similarly capable devices on the market, including the Sony Reader Touch, which sells for about $400 in Canada.

Moreover, many experts expect the Kindle will be old news in a few months. Rumours are swirling that Apple will release a touchscreen tablet in the spring of 2010 that would be a mash-up of an iPhone, e-reader and laptop, complete with a colour screen and full Web-browsing capabilities. “The Kindle is a very early, 1.0-version of the technology,” says Kaan Yigit, the president of Solutions Research Group in Toronto. “It’s kind of a one-trick pony in that it doesn’t do anything else well. It just does books.” While that makes sense for Amazon, which is in the book business, it doesn’t necessarily make Kindle an ideal companion for consumers who want more multimedia flexibility, according to Yigit.

The publisher of Sports Illustrated recently released a video online that depicts how the magazine might look on a touchscreen tablet similar to what Apple is believed to be developing. The eye-catching mock-up includes interactive pages that mix printed articles, crisp photos and video, which the Kindle is incapable of handling. The rendering makes the Kindle look overly studious and even somewhat dated with its black and white screen and dozens of tiny buttons.

Still, for many, the Kindle may be the best option, since there’s no guarantee when Apple will launch its tablet. Or, more importantly, when that device will be available in Canada. Of course, there’s always the option of making a clandestine run across the border.




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Canadians get a Kindle surprise

  1. I have a Sony PRS 505 and am very pleased with it. The reading experience is superior to a soft/hardcover novel because I can adjust the font size depending on how tired my eyes are and I dont have to turn pages. However reading textbooks/academic papers is not enjoyable (because these publishings require more page space). I want to pick up a big screen ereader to read textbooks and papers, but there just aren't any available in Canada. Im going to purchase the first reasonably priced large screen ereader (willing to pay < $600), if Amazon wants my business, they'll sell the kindle DX in Canada.

  2. Just got the Sony Pocket Edition, PRS 300. Pleased as punch with it. The proprietary Kindle, Canadianized or not, wasn't for me.

  3. I have the Sony ereader and am very satisfied with it. I own a desktop, and a netbook. The ereaders are great for reading books which is what they are designed for. I have a watch that justs tells the time. My dishwasher just does dishes. I have read books on the netbook but find there is so much to distract you it is not the best for reading. I read magazines and newspapers already very well on my netbook. The ereaders do what they do best and it is to read novels and short stories. Their battery life and ability to read outdoors are their benefit over netbooks.

    • I am exactly the same–except for the dishwasher. Don't have one of those. And the benefit of having 98 books wherever I am (the Sony fits in my purse and I carry it everywhere) means lineups are a good thing.

  4. One word, Sony. I've looked at the Kindle and Sony's line of products and if you want a computer then get a netbook. If you want a book that makes wandering around from class to class without causing future back problems then Sony's the way to go. And they don't deny Canadians product on the basis that we're not large enough…which is the excuse that Amazon actually gave when this was actually news.

    And why should Amazon be interested in selling in Canada? We so often have to import something just to get it from them. And Amazon's partners are almost all willing to export to us. As far as I'm concerned there's better products out there than the Kindle and they're available to Canadians sans the short end of the stick.

  5. Of course, one of the main stumbling blocks for the Kindle was the wireless infrastructure needed to support it. The iPhone delay wasn't due to Apple's capriciousness, there was only one company (Rogers) that could support it and they had Apple over a barrel.

    Let's not forget Canadians still pay a scandalous amount of money each month for even basic cell phone access. I would expect Amazon had to negotiate long and hard with the Canadian cell giants to get a deal that would be palatable.

    Late introduction by Apple/Amazon is only a symptom of a larger disease.

    • You are most certainly correct Jim. After I brought the DX back I did my share of digging and came to the same conclusion you did. It was a toss up between the small market in Canada, the Telcom bottleneck and copyright law. If anyone is interested in my original blog article or has any questions about the DX or how to get one you can check out my site and drop me a line. http://www.revsoftware.ca/blog/2009/06/22/a-kindl

  6. I bought the Kindle purely for book reading and it works great. We use a laptop for everything else. By the time the "ultimate" device is ready my Kindle will be a few years old which is certainly old enough to move on. It works great for simply reading books which is what we bought it for.

  7. Heard about the Kindle in Canada, looked up the DX (9.7 inches), it was not available. I did not buy it.
    Heard about the Sony Reader in Canada, looked up the Daily Edition (7 inches), it was not available. I did not buy it.
    Heard about the Nook, looked it up, not available in Canada. I did not buy it.

    Waiting, my money still in my pocket.

  8. This was news two months ago. It isn't news any more.

  9. The apple tablet patent has recently been filled by apple and i'll bet that Jobs announces the release at the next Macworld 2010 in February. It will blow the kindle reader out of the water and I'm sure apple won't restrict canadian's from purchasing them. They've never done this in the past with any of their products.

  10. Bought an LIBRE EBOOK READER PRO for my daughter for Christmas, she bought her guy a Sony and they are very similar.

  11. I got the Kindle2 as a Christmas present and have been pleasantly surprised. It's great for reading books. But, really, without the web browzer turned off, I can't help but feel I'm getting ripped off. I mean, why can't I get into the gutenberg project allowing me to download for free all kinds of great authors. What's with us in Canada? How can we be such great techno adapters and still get hosed by stupid rules, regulations and red tape? Yes, the Kindle is great for reading. And, honestly, I don't mind buying books/magazines, etc from Amazon — they're great — but I just want more choice. Is that so much to ask?

  12. Will kindle work wherever there is cell phone coverage in Canda no matter who the service provider is.

  13. The kindle is actually available in canada through the international store trick. I could explain the whole thing but its easier to post the link that would explain it better: http://www.kindlecanada.fh.ca/
    i actually did this and got my kindle in the mail a week later!

  14. I found the kindle is actually available in canada. Its a little tricky to get it, but it can be shipped from the US and its quite cheap. What i did is follow the instructions of http://www.kindlecanada.fh.ca/, and got my kindle a few days later to my address in canada. hope that helps.

  15. I got the kindle canada from kindlecanada.fh.ca and it works. it comes from the international amazon store, but it delivers to canada. wifi and even 3g works perfectly

  16. when will kindle touch and fire available in canada, I found kindle canada said about possible of kindle touch in canada – do you have any news?

  17. Kindle that official available for Canada now are Kindle 3, 3g, Dx and
    New Kindle $109. Not now for Kindle Touch & Fire. But I want Kindle
    Touch so much – I google and fount the way to get that here http://www.canadaereader.ca/
    It’s working Method for the one who want Kindle Touch & Fire in
    Canada. But you must pay for the extra charge about $40 USD for shipping
    cost.

  18. Go for All Information of New Kindle Canada Family.

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